Not removing Paine in 2018 'clearly sent the wrong message', says CA board chairman

CA chief executive Hockley says he was aware of the case but found out details only last week

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
The current Cricket Australia board would not have endorsed Tim Paine as Test captain if the information around his explicit text messages to a female colleague in 2018 had been available, the chairman of the body has said.
Paine resigned on Friday when details of the code of conduct case, which cleared him of wrongdoing, was made public. There has been considerable turnaround in the board and executive of CA since that time, with neither current chairman Richard Freudenstein or chief executive Nick Hockley with the organisation three years ago - although an overlap remains.
"While I cannot speak about the original decision-making in 2018, what I can say is that faced with the same circumstances and with the benefit of all the relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decisions today," Freudenstein said in a statement at the beginning of a press conference on Saturday.
"I acknowledge the decision clearly sent the wrong message to the sport, to the community and to Tim that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and without serious consequences. The role of the Australian cricket captain must be held to the highest possible standards."
He said he had been told about the closed case when he came onto the board two years ago, while Hockley confirmed he was aware of its existence although only delved into it deeply last week when it became clear the story was going public. Paine was listed as captain when Australia's Ashes squad was announced on Wednesday morning.
Freudenstein added that amendments to the code of conduct have been implemented over the last three years and that CA's current policies were appropriate. "Think it's important to note a lot of things have changed since that time, the player education, there's a full programme addressing a whole range of things including texting which has been in place since 2018-19 and we've undertaken a full review of our anti-harassment and discrimination policies," he said.
Although having been made aware of the case, Freudenstein said he did not believe it warranted looking into again during the intervening time until forced to by it being made pubic. "You don't go onto a board and ask to see every integrity decision that's been closed over the previous years," he said. "I was given a very high-level briefing that there had been an incident and a thorough investigation and no misconduct found. There would be no reason to investigate that further. It was something that had been put to bed."
He indicated that the board would undertake a review of past integrity findings while the credentials of Paine's replacement, expected to be Pat Cummins, would be heavily scrutinised. "We may just need to look back…I'm very confident in the way integrity decisions are made. We'll have a review over the past few years but I'm sure that will lead to no further changes."
Paine had been central to CA's attempts to forge the men's team in a new image after the ball-tampering scandal but despite the nature of his exit from the captaincy there is confidence that any gains won't be undone.
"The team over recent years has really prioritised team culture," Hockley said. "Think we have made great strides. Certainly we are very clear on the vision for cricket to be the most inclusive sport with a culture of respect and its core. As Tim has said he's owned that particular mistake. Going forward it's incumbent on everybody to have the highest standards to represent Australia particularly on a leadership position."
Paine had been due to return to action following his neck surgery with a club game in Hobart on Saturday, but rain prevented any play. George Bailey, the national selector, was spotted at the ground but did not make any comment on the situation.
Freudenstein reiterated that Paine remained available for selection for the Test side and that decision was now solely in the hands of the selectors. "The board of Australian cricket is comfortable he is available to play," he said

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo